Racing simulators, while not the largest genre out there, are one of the oldest and most admired category of video games, and a significant percentage of gamers enjoy one type of racing simulator or another every day. It would seem easy to assume that the realistic simulations of operating a motor vehicle along with the mental and physical coordination required by the titles would help increase driving skills.
However, a study published by JMR Serious Games last year concluded that many different types of video games, from Kinect dancing games to Forza Motorsports 4, had the potential to improve physical and mental attributes in individuals that resulted in improved driving skills.
The study, entitled “Assessing Video Games to Improve Driving Skills: A Literature Review and Observational Study,” consisted of two parts. First, researchers performed a comprehensive overview of previously published research articles about the effect of video games on real world driving skills from 2000 to 2012. Eventually, the researchers found 29 relevant papers, stating that “On reviewing the shortlisted papers it was determined that video games could potentially improve driving skills both in terms of cognition and physical state.”
Next, researchers performed their own, independent study observing the effects of a wide variety of games, including Kinect Sports, Just Dance 3, and the aforementioned Forza Motorsports 4 on individual’s physical, visual and cognitive skills. The researchers found the various games had positive impacts on participant’s memory skills, physical activity and that the use of driving wheels and pedals with driving games had a direct improvement on driving skills.
Ultimately, the researchers stated that “Gaming consoles can be affordable, convenient, and motivational, thereby helping with the reduction of road accidents and increasing the average driving age.” They especially emphasized the benefits that video games can have for older adults in keeping their mental faculties sharp and helping them remain safe, effective drivers.
Click here to read an abstract of the study and to find more resources about the potential for video games to improve driving skills.